Fixed wind tariff not best solution -- Energy commission warning

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Spain's national energy commission, Comisión Nacional de la Energía (CNE), is refuting reports that it would like the national wind tariff reduced (Windpower Monthly, March 2002). But at the same time it is warning against overly high payments: "Regulation that does not take into account technological improvements and treats all types of wind production the same . . . will increase the impression that [wind] can become a speculative business, keeping it from full integration within the electricity system."

CNE's is concerned of the destabilising effects of too much wind on Spain's electricity system, especially given the huge sector growth in recent years. While it "values enormously the environmental contribution of renewable energies," it also says that the fluctuating nature of input from wind power plant increases the need for regulation. New wind prediction models are being developed, says CNE, together with data processing and transmission techniques that "could facilitate remote management of groups of wind plant." Within a short space of time, "it may be possible to increase production guarantees and reduce operational problems."

CNE underlines its desire to "provide economic incentives for renewable energies that voluntarily enter the market, taking into account the special characteristics of their means of production, while preserving the safety net of established regulation."

Grid costs rocketing

Spain's renewables association, Asociación de Pequeños Productores Autogeneradores (APPA), welcomes CNE's clarification of its position on wind. But it questions the commission's assessment of installed capacity costs, figures which impact the annual tariff equation. While CNE believes the cost of installed wind capacity is falling and will continue to do so, APPA says the cost per installed kilowatt of wind capacity is going up and that grid connection costs are "rocketing." Neither organisation states concrete figures, however.

APPA also questions CNE's estimate that installed wind capacity is 6% ahead of the development schedule outlined in Spain's renewables promotion plan, Plan de Fomento. That should be no reason to reduce the wind tariff, says APPA. It points out that Plan de Fomento figures represent minimum objectives, not final goals.

For 2002, Spain's wind tariff has been fixed by the government at EUR 0.0628/kWh. The majority of Spain's wind plant operators, however, opt for an alternative wind bonus system, a production incentive of EUR 0.0290/kWh added to Spain's power pool price -- currently at EUR 0.03851/kWh.

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